Why Not Push Us to Think?

A high school sophomore reflects on the limits of and alternatives to high-stakes standardized tests. Ai-Zhen Tung wrote this reflection during her sophomore year at Boston’s Fenway High School.

Ai-Zhen TungAfter taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test this past spring, I’m sure all Boston Public School students would agree that they are a waste of time and an inaccurate representation of our intellect. For three days straight, we sit in solemn silence while taking a boring test; our brains definitely aren’t at their best. In fact, the MCAS actually measures our lowest possible potential rather than our highest. What I wanted to do was fill an open response section ranting about how ineffective MCAS is. By publishing my thoughts here, I hope to gain the attention of people who have power to make change.

Two summers ago, I participated in a science and math camp where a group of students spent six hours solving a multistep problem that would, at the end, open a locked box. The activity tested us in multiple subjects and taught us life lessons like leadership, cooperation, group work, and persistence. As a student who learns best kinesthetically and visually, the MCAS is the worst type of test you can give me, because while I’m trying to focus on answering meaningless questions, I’m also doing anything I can to keep the boredom away. The questions on the MCAS are irrelevant. Why not push us to think about and address world issues like immigration, racism, and politics?

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